By Helen Modesett
Editor’s Note: In this installment of “Mind of Sabol,” we will take a closer look at one of the biggest pioneers of professional football, George Halas (“Papa Bear”), historic owner and coach of the Chicago Bears. Let us know what you think about Steve’s famous card catalog by leaving a comment below or tweeting @NFLFilms with #MindofSabol.
The history of pro football is closely intertwined with the story of George Halas and his football career. Jack-of-all-trades Halas did everything from selling tickets to coaching, writing rules and playing right end for the Chicago Bears, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Everything.”
Highlighted Section:Pro football was started by six guys sitting around on a Huppmobile running boards in Canton, Ohio, one afternoon in 1920. The only survivor of that group is George Halas. One of the reasons pro football survived in George Halas. George Halas not only played end, he sold tickets, swept floors, shoveled snow, ushered patrons, coached, counted, flacked, worried, wet-nursed, and evangelized. he spent Staley’s get away money on uniforms and the first 20 bucks that came though the till he ran down to the drugstore and bought iodine and tape. When not a single Chicago newspaper showed up to cover the game, George hired a press agent.
After playing for the team and being an assistant coach, Halas gained control of the team in 1921 when it was still the “Chicago Staleys.” He renamed the team in 1922.
Underlined Section: He named the team the Bears because they played in Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. “Football players are bigger,” he liked to say. “If baseball players are cubs, football players must be bears.”
He helped revolutionize the way the game was played. He was the first coach to hold daily practices, analyze film of opposites and to put coaches in the press box. He also perfected the T-formation system and he successfully fought for new league rules that increased scoring opportunities, which in turn lead to the growth of the popularity of the game.
George Halas name is often interchanged with his nickname “Papa Bear” because of his long standing association with the team as a coach, player and owner. With out Halas the Bears wouldn’t exist the way they do today.Steve’s Thoughts: “They called him Papa Bear but when you talked to those who played against him you learned that Papa Bear was not so cuddly and lovable.“
Highlighted Section: Like all self-made men, Hals believed that Papa- knows best. Steve’s Thoughts:”Believed football was not a game for the weak or faint hearted clever craft and resourceful…. And he built the team in his own image. Made the bears his personal symbol“
“How much will it cost?” he asked
“About 100,000” was the answer.
“100,000,” gasped Halas, “For 50,000 I will stand on the pedestal myself.”